2, 2012 Martin Mallon
(Ireland) Martin's previous
Harry Winter, in his article of Sept 18, Did
Abbott SJ’s edition of the Vatican II Documents footnotes the reality of the
purification of the Church between Trent and Vatican II by calling attention to
the Collects for the First Sunday of Lent, and the fifteenth Sunday after
Pentecost, which spoke of the Church needing purification (Abbott, p. 23, n.
25). These collects were used from
while he mentions Abbott’s n 25, on p 23, Fr Winter omits the first three
sentences of the footnote, in the section on Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic
Constitution on the Church), which are very significant today; especially
the third sentence which is highlighted below:
The comparison between the Church and Christ is a reminder that the Church, like its Master, should not seek to be served but to serve. But of course there is no complete parallelism. Unlike Christ, the Church is not a divine Person; in its concrete historical existence, it is capable of being tarnished by sin.
Church has been badly tarnished of late, but will survive thanks to the Holy
Spirit, but hopefully in a different form, after it is reformed. The
purification currently needed must start with the hierarchy and must involve
opening the higher echelons of power in the Church to the laity; this could be
achieved, using an
idea advocated by Giovanni Franzoni
Moreover, nothing has been done to make the conciliar claim of the Church as the “people of God” concrete. It would have been completely logical that, once the premise had been put forward, a kind of Senate of the Catholic Church would have been created where bishops, priests, monks, nuns, religious, lay men and women would be represented, to discuss the big problems together. Or, better, along with each bishops’ conference (which gathers the local churches of a nation or a territory) there should be this Senate, that would send a representative to the Senate of the Catholic Church
reform would change the Church for the good and would bring the Church back to
its roots, as in Acts 15, when everyone was involved in Church Councils.
aspect to footnote 25 is that it emphasises the fact that “the Church is not a
divine person.” This is a statement of the obvious, but it appears that many
people do think that the Church, the Mystical body of Christ, is divine and it
is important to make clear that it is not and that, therefore, it can and does
make mistakes. If the hierarchy freely acknowledged this it would make it easier
to admit and correct errors as and when they occur rather than waiting for
decades and centuries before issuing apologies.
current situation is very dangerous for all the people of the Church as it could
and does cause people to drift along, believing official Church teaching is God
given and binding, without using their discerned moral consciousness, therefore,
abdicating personal responsibility. The
reform of the Church must also begin with the people of God informing their
consciences, especially those calling for reform. This includes being aware of
their own freedom as children of God, studying and reading the teaching put
before them and using other relevant sources as explained in the excellent
section on The
Formation of Conscience in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
15 of Lumen Gentium is also relevant in this area, referring to the
Church’s connection to baptised non-Catholic Christians and states:
are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ…we can say
that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them
too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His
sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding
of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be
peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one
shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end.
“purification and renewal” should be ongoing and continuous; the policy of
preserving the good name of the institutional Church at all costs must be
binned. A good step in the right direction here would be, for example, the
withdrawal of the secrecy oath each new Cardinal must make whereby each new
Cardinal pledges “not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in
confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonour to Holy
again we see that the
They are, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.
Are we not all obliged to call for reform?
Are we not all obliged to call for reform?